by Julie Murphy
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Publication Date: March 18th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
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What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?
When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.
Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?
Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality. (Goodreads)
The main character in this novel, Alice, was not a nice girl. It took me to almost the end of the book to actually start caring for her. I hesitate to say that I couldn’t connect with Alice,—in some introverted way I kind of understood her, and even her reasoning’s—but I didn’t care for the way she acted and treated people, so I had a hard time connecting. I do understand how she felt. She was scared of living life. Death was something that she could face; it was something that she had come to expect. Living her life after thinking that she was going to die, it’s something she just couldn’t handle. And because of that, she pushed everyone away. Thankfully she does have a bit of a ‘wake-up’ moment towards the end of the book, and we finally get to see a different side of dear Alice. This is when I really start to like her.
Harvey, Alice’s best friend, was definitely the best part of this book. Oh, how he loved Alice. I hated the way that she treated him in return, and that she wouldn’t share how she truly felt about him. There was so much back and forth between these two, I really just wanted to smack them in the head and tell them to get their act together. But they had their moments, and those moments were very sweet.
I was a little worried about the storyline for this book when I first started reading it. I’m seeing books about terminal illness pop up a lot lately, and I’m worried that it’s a subject that is going to be overused. This book was definitely able to hold its own against other stories with that involves illness. I didn’t include a whole lot of cancer terminology, and for that, I was kind of thankful. The storyline flowed really well, and I was able to read this book really quickly.
Overall; despite it taking a long while for me to warm up to the main character, I found this to be a very enjoyable read. I’m really glad to have discovered this author; she has a way with words. I’m really looking forward to reading more from her in the future.